Author: Jane Daniel, Director of Social Media & Client Relations at SPARKS!
- Go alone
Going alone forces you to spend your time talking to someone new which maximizes the number of connections you make. When I have brought friends I’m usually left worrying if they are entertained and distracted from being present in the moment. Dave Kerpen, Founder & CEO Likeable Local, says “Show up alone, and challenge yourself to seek out others who are alone. They’ll thank you for approaching them.”
2. Build your credibility
There are basic body language tips: limit fidgeting, eye contact, and focused stance etc. In addition, building credibility is about being an active listener– showing them how you can solve their specific “pain-points” after listening to what they have to say about their business.
At a networking event, a woman came up to me to tell me about her services which was sales training, something that I was actually already in the market to buy. Instead of asking me about myself and my needs she went into a rehearsed elevator pitch, gave me a business card and moved on to the next person. I didn’t use her sales training course; there was no connection or relationship built.
3. Give before the ask
People are expecting for the ask– after all we are here to push our product and grow our business. Therefore, it’s unexpected when you offer to help first and will inspire devotion in others that will pay you back later down the road. Once you build your network up it becomes easy to connect people to the people they need to meet to accomplish their business goals.
4. Build rapport quickly
Zig Ziglar said “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” You have to project the “I care about you” attitude before people will even consider doing business with you. You can wow them with your track record or the roster of clients you have, but it means nothing if that person doesn’t feel like you “get” them.
If you still feel shy when talking to people for the first time, Leil Lowndes, author of “How to Talk to Anyone,” suggests imagining the potential client is an old friend “How sad, the vicissitudes of life tore you two asunder. But, holy mackerel, now the party (the meeting, the convention) has reunited you with your long-lost old friend!” Framing the situation in this way will soften your demeanor and help you relax– it will also invoke a quicker kinship from the other person. That kinship will build trust, which is the foundation of any business relationship.
5. Follow up in email or LinkedIn with everyone and snail-mail those who you think could be a real lead
This is the part everyone forgets. You spent all this time talking to each other, but you can’t convert them into a sale if that’s the last interaction you ever have.
A great follow up I received was a hand written card from someone I met at a Network Under 40 event. I loved that he took the time to write and mail that card. It made me feel like he cared and that I was special. We met for coffee the next week and although I was not a potential client, I will recommend him to my friends looking to buy a home.
Business cards are crucial to receiving or making follow-ups. It kills me when people don’t have business cards. Some forget them, which is understandable, but I have heard the “People find me” line (emphasis on the me). I respect that people may be afraid to be put on email lists, but hearing that says you don’t care about following up with me. Jon Gordon, author of “The Carpenter,” puts a new spin on the famous Steve Jobs quote and says, “Stay Humble, Stay Hungry.” Don’t be lackadaisical in your approach and expect people to seek you out. Gordon continues, “Live with humility because the minute you think you have arrived at the door of greatness it will get shut in your face.”